WAGNER, RICHARD. (1813-1883). German opera composer, including Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde and Der Fliegende Holländer. Inscribed first Italian edition of the score of Rienzi (signed in facsimile). 445pp. Large 4to. (Published by F. Lucca: Milan) N.d. Inscribed in German to Dresden court doctor and “seinem theuren Freunde” (“his valued friend”) ANTON PUSINELLI (1815-1878), with whom he frequently corresponded. Underneath Wagner’s facsimile signature, below his portrait, Wagner adds, “Volkstribun aus Dresden,” the caption, “the people’s tribune from Dresden.”
In 1840, Wagner composed Rienzi, based on Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1835 novel Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes about Cola di Rienzi, the leader of a 14th-century populist revolt. One of Wagner’s earliest works, it is notable for its French Grand Opera style, and aesthetic vastly different from Wagner’s subsequent works. In fact, despite a successful 1842 premier and its ongoing popularity, Wagner later renounced the work, though it helped him earn a post as Dresden’s Royal Saxon Court Conductor during the 1840s. Wagner remained in Dresden for six years but “in 1845-46 pecuniary troubles again began to press upon Wagner. The success of Rienzi had naturally led him to hope that his operas would soon find their way to the leading theatres. To facilitate this he had entered into an agreement with a firm of music publishers (C.F. Meser, Dresden) to print the pianoforte scores of Rienzi and the Holländer… The results, however, proved disastrous. Issued at high prices, and by publishers whose business relations were not very extensive, the editions did not sell well, and Wagner became liable for a considerable sum,” (The New Grove Dictionary).